Solving the opioid crisis shouldn’t involve stopping or limiting the prescription of opioids for everyone, regardless of their conditions. Yet, some authorities are taking those actions, which has been creating disastrous results.
What are the guidelines?
A number of U.S. states are lowering the maximum daily dosage a person can take of an opioid/opiate drug or limiting the number of days a person can use the drug. Since they limit drug exposure and amounts, such measures strive to lower abuse. But, they can also create considerable harm.
Many people who use opioids have tried other types of medical treatment. Opioids are their last resort. Opioid drugs often manage their pain. Just lowering their dosage a little can cause pain, sometimes severe pain, to return. Removing them entirely can cause even more, even strong pain and can also cause uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Such measures are aimed at people who still have legal access to opioids. Some U.S. states are encouraging doctors to promote other types of pain management and are requiring doctors to stop prescribing opioids altogether instead of lowering the allowable dosages.
What are the consequences?
People cut off from all opioids may face tough choices. Without opioids, they may experience pain so severe that it destroys their quality of life. While on opioids, they may have been able to work, attend to details in their lives, and spend time with loved ones.
Living without the drugs may produce such intense pain that they may be unable to do anything. The pain may confine them to their homes, maybe make them bedridden. Not treating their pain can lead to other medical complications. Faced with the prospect of living without medication to ease their pain, some people have even considered suicide as a way to escape such extreme pain.
Denied legal pain relief, some people turn to illegal pain relief. They may buy or steal pain medication from others, which may be dangerous or expensive. They may even begin using heroin or start drink excessively because they feel that using alcohol and drugs will numb the physical and mental pain of their condition.
But, people sometimes add fentanyl and other dangerous drugs to heroin. And, speaking of dangerous combinations, if people consume alcohol with other drugs, the side effects can be fatal.
Prescribing unlimited amounts opioids without considering the consequences can be dangerous. Denying medication that has proven to manage pain responsibly can also be dangerous.